terse & at large

GRRRRR. Arrrgh. And sometimes a travel log.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Muzaffarabad, Part 5

Originally uploaded by Terz.

By the time I get to the field hospital and IDP, Pearl has already completed most of her interviews and her walk-through of the IDP camp. I get to the riverside, to the camp that's not in the safest place in the area - a flash flood would wipe out everyone who survived the earthquake. There is very little for me to do. I don't fancy taking a walk through the camp. These people don't need another person who hadn't experienced what they had gone through to be among them, taking photos of their misfortune and being invasive.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Otherwise, there are only children moving about in the camp. And most of them gathering what they may from the litter and other human detritus. The adults are either up on the embankment waiting for food and other supplies to arrive or at the distribution tent at the edge of the camp proper, waiting for the distribution of clothes for warmth.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Masoud is our guide and translator; a Masters degree student or graduate, it isn't very clear, and he has come from his hometown in the Punjab province to volunteer. When not showing media people and photographers around, he is usually at the hospital helping the Singapore medical team translate for the patients and their kin. He is 24, the same age as my brother. He's friendly and a great help to all of us at the hospital and at the camp. His friends, one of whom lost his family during the quake, also volunteer at the hospital.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

A young boy, gently cradling a bottle of water like it's the only thing in the world that matters to him, follows us around. He is chased off by the adults with us, but he remains unperturbed and continues to trail us at a distance. The children are intrigued by the photographs I take and showing them the images on my LCD screen seems to delight them to no end.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

The Neelum River - Masoud tells me it used to be clear and used to appear blue from a distance. I find it hard to believe him. The water, when scooped from the river, is full of sediments. From time to time, a foul smell comes from it. It is freezing cold, though, that much hasn't changed. Masoud then points to the mountains in the distance. "See? There are still landslides."

He is not lying. The distant mountains are covered in a perpetual blanket of dust and debris the whole time we are at the field hospital.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

As we leave, a new shipment of tents arrives and the volunteers get to work setting them up. I meet the man in charge of the camp. An imposing and traditional man (who refuses to shake Pearl's hand when it was proffered) who tells me about the tents. Many of the volunteers wear a green scarf on their heads. I learn later that these are the mujahideen, jihadists, who have come down from the mountains to volunteer. They are not as scary as they have been painted to be by the international media. Many are appreciative of the efforts that Team Singapore has put in during this tragedy. The man-in-charge calls Dr Fatimah, 'Sister'. Fred calls them, 'good guys'. I believe him.

It's comforting.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Related Links:
Flickr Photoset

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9


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